Sunday, August 24, 2008

something rotten in iceland

Jon left Thursday at 4AM and Mark took off yesterday morning. Jon and I went to see Sigur Rós last Tuesday amidst all the hype, hyperbole and hooplah over Britain’s #5 band. Jon and I have probably seen close to a hundred concerts together and this show was no exception, since we saw it together. What made it exceptional was that it was the worst, most expensive (@$50) concert either of us had ever seen. Not that we saw it, really, as there was a very bright spotlight trained on our retinas for the duration of the show.

From the inane rambling falsetto bilge of their made-up language to the droning dirge of the pompous, yet uninspired instruments, these guys (and their PR machine) did not fail to disappoint. Their cookie-cutter formulaic cheese coupled with the unlimited freedom of arbitrary, meaningless strings of phonemes make them a better business plan than a band, as the duped hordes of post-gothic whitey that filled the stadium rapturously attested. They spared us a second encore, but replaced it with pretentious histrionic curtain calls. A sham of a mockery of a farce of a scam. The emperor is stark naked and we felt like we’d been mugged.

My blood results were good last week: white blood count: 8.5 and platelets: 202. Thursday’s sonogram revealed a very enlarged (by 13mm) and damaged gall bladder, most probably a direct result of the chemo, but no stones, sort of thankfully. The damage (chronic cholecystitus), I’m told, is permanent, since it’s chronic. My prostate continues to be enlarged as well, but that was all the bad news. My liver, kidneys, pancreas, bladder and even my spleen, all check out fine.

Radiation again tomorrow – just five more sessions to go. I’m starting to get pretty red around the radiated areas now, but was expecting this, as I’d seen it on my fellow radiatees in more obvious places.

Had a great but exhausting time with Jon and I landed a lot of unexpected work last week, so I haven’t been able to post. I went to Efka & Scott’s wedding out in the middle of nowhere yesterday and had a blast. Here’s a picture of the bride blushing along with her bridesmaids, the groom and the preacher:

Looks like we’re off to Crimea if we can get there before the Russians invade (again). Still no visa.

Friday, August 15, 2008

the paper curtain

I met with my radiologist on Monday. She looked at my chest, declared an improved case of shingles, cancelled my medication, filled my other prescriptions and sent me on my way to the radiator. A whole three minutes! I think she’s warming up to me.

I threw up a whole lot of nothing yesterday morning before heading off to the hospital for blood tests and round #4 of radiation. Radiation sickness is pretty different from chemo nausea – not as bad really. I feel OK today.

After weeks of amateur repainting of my tattoos by just about everyone from a few aspiring Modrians to mostly wannabe Pollocks, the Chinese whispers had caused a drift in my markings of several centimeters in seemingly random directions. This didn’t go unnoticed by the professionals and they had to start from scratch by taking more chest x-rays and realigning me with my original CT.

The subsequent over-painting left my torso a messy mass of religious and runic symbols:

Mark thinks that they’re not really giving me any radiation, but just painting crosses on my body and hoping that will work.

I get my blood results back on Monday along with more radiation and have a sonogram on Thursday of my gall stones and then again more radiation.

The Russian invasion of my intended beach vacation and my ongoing visa limbo has left September’s travel plans unclear to say the least. We’re now thinking Bulgaria. I’m going to have to bring some stronger pressure to bear on my visa situation if I ever hope to get out of the country alive (pun intended). Jon gets back from Germany tomorrow morning with news from beyond the paper curtain.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

visa: it’s everywhere you wanna be

They weren’t kidding when they came up with that slogan. I still don’t know what’s going on. The woman at the consulate gave me the number of the law that I was ostensibly breaking last week and it turned out to have something to do with the division of assets after the break-up of Czechoslovakia or something. I spent an entire week thinking that they were trying to pin the split of the country on me somehow. I had nothing to do with it, I swear. I even thought it was a bad idea at the time and still do. “So you’re the reason we lost the Tatras,” one friend said to me. The shame.

I found out today that one of us (I still think it was her) got the year (of the law) wrong and it actually does refer to the latest long-winded list of reasons that one can be denied a visa to the Czech Republic without being specific at all, however, as to which I am guilty thereof, violation therein, nor compliant nonwith. Oh well.

I bowled a 192 on Saturday - not my best, but a hell of a lot better than my last game in December before my diagnosis (I was kinda paralyzed), which was a miserable 40: lower even than the 68 I got my first game at the age of 8.

We had a motley-crewed barbecue blast at Jirka’s on Sunday. Here’s a picture of a man with breasts who was at the beach – I thought I had it bad:

Radiation on Monday was around 40 seconds (I counted - silently to myself) of low-pitch dentist drill buzz in the radiator for each pair of tumors. I then met with my radiologist for my first check-up with her. She said hello, looked at my chest, declared a mild case of shingles, cancelled Thursday’s radiation and prescribed a lot of heavy-duty medication. "See you on Monday. That is all."

It’s clearing up fairly nicely already and I should be ready for Monday’s session. Tim left yesterday morning and Jon comes tomorrow with his wife, Annette, so Mark had to redo my tats today.

Friday, August 1, 2008

the radiator

Apparently my 11AM Monday radiation appointment was only ‘orientační’ or ballpark for 12:30PM, which is now my newly-established ballpark time – every Monday and Thursday until the 28th. The procedure itself is quick, painless and kinda weird if you think about it too much. I got a blister on my chest the day after my first treatment, but feel fine now after the second.

Tim and I got up yesterday morning just after six for a big day at the hospitals and went to see my oncologist shortly after the blood test. My platelets are up to 180! That’s at least 30 to spare and still be barely healthy! WBC steady at 3.2. The ‘official’ CT results are riddled with spelling mistakes in Czech and close to incomprehensible otherwise, but here goes:

I have four tumors, not three: two in the left pit nodes and two in the mediastinal lymph nodes – very near the lung, but not actually in the lung, after all. All four are ‘slightly’ shrunken when compared to the May 16th CT, according to the report’s conclusion. If you look at the actual numbers, however, or listen to my oncologist for that matter, the shrinkage is a bit more significant. Example: the largest tumor near the lung has gone from 38mm to 26mm in diameter.

I asked my oncologist, since all of my tumors are now purely lymphatic, if we could take her down to DEFCON 3, as it were, (or ‘orange alert’ for those of you who didn’t grow up during the cold war) from Stage 4 melanoma. She tapped her head (indicating my former baseball brain tumor) - “But, that’s been long gone since February!” I protested. She said that it really didn’t work that way :-(

They’re also a bit worried about my gall stones and will do a sonogram on the 21st. Between the morning sickness and the sonogram, I should give birth sometime in October – to an enlarged prostate.

We passed the time between appointments hanging out at Homolka and playing with a lucky, limber scarab who impressed us with his acrobatic feats of fancy:

Then off to get zapped again. The lab assistant asked me:

“You’re the guy who took that mole off himself, right?”
“Yeah, that’s me, some hair and string, yeah...”
“That’s not a very good idea.”
“No, not really, no.”

She took this picture of me in the radiator:

We got up this morning to go to KV, only to find out that the buses were sold out until night time. Oh yeah, and my visa was rejected today - more on that (hopefully) in my next post. Stay tuned!